Re: The IRS Mistakenly Exposed Thousands of Social Security Numbers
Originally Posted by Aunt Spiker
It became a bigger deal when people started using them to steal people's identity - it doesn't take much (apparently) for criminals to use it for racking up debt - which then you have to sort out for the rest of your life. . and of course, at one point in our history your personal credit history was considered to be none of your business, and instead something to keep from you. When that changed - people saw crap on their credit reports that were from other people.
A lot of people weren't victims of identity theft - but were victims of ignorant organizations and businesses that made mistakes and falsely assigned things to their credit history from other people.
SSN's alone (just the numbers) are meaningless (or should I say useless) - because they're assigned methodically. You could sit down and write up a list of SSN's based on how they're assigned (state / county / etc). What a criminal needs is personal details (a name, where you live, maybe a few other tidbits) for it to be used easily. I'm not sure how little is needed - but the number is just one component.
This. Not just any kind of tidbits though. They need to know where you've lived in the past (addresses connected to your named), names of children (if you have any), and some banking information. An SS number by itself doesn't tell you much. However if somebody tricks you into giving away personal information + SSN - you're pretty much screwed.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. - MLK